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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Georgia Man Charged with Trafficking Guns to Jersey City that were Used in Shootings

NEWARK, N.J. – A Georgia man has been charged with trafficking multiple firearms from Georgia to Jersey City, New Jersey, which were subsequently used in acts of violence, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Jonathan Brown, 26, of Covington, Georgia, was arrested today in Covington by special agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and is charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit the unlicensed sale of firearms. He had his initial appearance, and was detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for May 8, 2020, in the Northern District of Georgia.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Brown led a scheme to purchase firearms in or around Georgia and traffic those firearms to individuals in Jersey City. Brown, who is barred from purchasing firearms himself due to multiple prior felony convictions, used straw purchasers in Georgia to obtain the firearms so that Brown could sell those firearms to others. On multiple occasions, Brown brought firearms from Georgia to New Jersey to for sale.

Within months of Brown’s trips to Jersey City, law enforcement arrested numerous individuals in Jersey City in possession of firearms purchased by Brown’s straw purchasers. At least one of the weapons trafficked by Brown was later used in the shooting of another person in Jersey City. At least one of the individuals in possession of one of Brown’s guns had a prior felony conviction, and was therefore barred from possessing a firearm. To date, law enforcement has recovered seven firearms allegedly trafficked by Brown in Jersey City.   

The conspiracy count with which the defendant is charged carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. 

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the ATF, Newark Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson, as well as the Jersey City Police Department, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the ATF Atlanta Field Division, and the Newton County, Georgia, Sheriff’s office, with the investigation leading to the charges and arrest. 

This investigation was conducted as part of the Jersey City Violent Crime Initiative (VCI). The VCI was formed in 2018 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Jersey City Police Department, for the sole purpose of combatting violent crime in and around Jersey City. As part of this partnership, federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate to strategize and prioritize the prosecution of violent offenders who endanger the safety of the community. The VCI is composed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the ATF, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New Jersey Division, the U.S. Marshals, the Jersey City Police Department, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, New Jersey State Parole, the Hudson County Jail, and the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see: https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian  

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Macurdy and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Travers of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
20-132
Updated May 6, 2020